NNA’s testimony supported Rodrigue’s request for authorization of second PPP loan

Tonda Rush

Oct 1, 2020


Local restaurants and local newspapers have common and critical concerns during the coronavirus economy. They both need federal stimulus dollars to continue to serve their communities.

That was the message by NNA Chair Brett Wesner, president of Wesner Publications, Cordell, Oklahoma, to the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures in September.

Minutes after Wesner’s election, he provided testimony to the SRM subcommittee as it completed hearings on the needs of local restaurants in the stimulus bill.

Reports of regenerated talks in the House to complete some stimulus relief before the November election appear to have been behind the subcommittee’s decision to hear from the restaurant industry about their needs. The House had been expected to adjourn in mid-September, but dealmakers continue to explore legislation.
Melvin Rodrigue, owner of Galatoire’s in New Orleans, told members of Congress that his industry urgently needed help:

“You are well aware of the outsized impact that this pandemic has had on an industry as vulnerable as ours. According to a recent National Restaurant Association survey, one in six restaurants are currently closed. Forty percent of those still open say they are likely to close within six months without additional federal relief. The restaurant industry is on track to lose $240 billion this year. Here in New Orleans, our industry has lost more than 31,000 jobs — half of our pre-pandemic workforce,” he told the subcommittee.

“Equally important is the recognition that after six months of crippling disruption, virtually every kind of restaurant is suffering, from the corner diner to longtime independents like Galatoire’s, and even to individual owners of full-service restaurant chains. Our industry needs a federal support plan that appreciates this and doesn’t pick winners and losers based on a business model,” he said.

NNA’s testimony supported Rodrigue’s request for authorization of a second PPP loan and called attention to the importance of restaurants as newspaper customers. It also pointed out the need for continued deductibility of PPP-covered expenses. NNA called the subcommittee’s attention to the provisions in the Local Journalism Sustainability Act for tax credits that local businesses like restaurants could use to advertise their services.

Wesner said all three measures would help both community newspapers and local restaurants.

“It is heartening that the Ways and Means Committee is continuing to highlight the need for more help to small businesses because its work is going to be key to reopening the stimulus negotiations before the November election,” Wesner said. “NNA’s Congressional Action Team is reaching out to members of this critical committee, encouraging them to persevere in wrapping up a deal this fall, when it is most needed.”

Tonda Rush is the director of public policy and serves as general counsel to the National Newspaper Association. Email her at tonda@nna.org.